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op-ed
march 2008

The Socks-Series

 





  Op-ed
by Hans Durrer
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Next Hans Durrer (Photo © Blazenka Kostolna)

On a recent trip to San Francisco, the widely unknown Swiss photographer Trigger Bore didn't know that he would discover what soon was to become the defining project of his photographic life: the socks-series.

Trigger had come to San Francisco to visit his friend, the photo-artist Edna O'Look. One rainy morning in the Richmond, the two friends were heading towards Geary when Edna pointed to something that lay on the pavement on the corner of 25 Ave and Geary and, as it was her habit, exclaimed: Oh look! Trigger Bore did not look for Edna O'Look constantly pointed out totally unremarkable objects wherever they went. Yet this time it wasn't that easy to ignore her for she had come to a complete standstill and thus blocked Trigger's path.

  She looked inquiringly at a piece of wet wool that to Trigger looked like an abandoned sock and not really worth his attention, especially since it was raining and he had to urgently pee. Yet Edna was thoroughly oblivious to such mundane occurrences — her latest project had revolved around water and since then everything in liquid form did not bother her anymore. Moreover, she was rather big on awareness: to be aware of whatever seemed to her something positive in itself. To Trigger this appeared an obvious compensation for Edna slept between ten and twelve hours every night so no wonder did she need to make up for lost time by making an extra effort to be extra-awake — or, in her words: aware.

  It's a sock, Trigger said. Interesting, innit? Edna responded. It's just a sock! Trigger exclaimed. What is interesting about a wet sock on the street? Well, I noticed it, Edna said. I wouldn't go as far as to attribute special meaning to that but the story behind this sock could actually be quite fascinating. Trigger still needed to pee and so he said: Can't we talk about it over coffee. Sure, Edna said.
Next When Trigger had finally emptied his bladder, he said: I can't believe that a wet sock on the street should arouse your interest. Don't you look at a sock differently when it is not in its usual place? Edna replied. What do you consider the usual place for a sock then? On a foot or in a closet. I agree, Trigger said, but what about a wet sock? Its proper place would be on a line hung to dry. Right, Trigger replied, but I still don't get it. I mean I simply don't care about a wet sock on the street. Well, Edna said, it allows you to look at the sock and at the place where the sock lies differently. If no sock were there, you probably wouldn't even have paid attention. Well, Trigger said, I hadn't paid attention despite of the sock lying there. That's the difference, Edna retorted, I pay attention and you don't. And because I do, I develop alternate view-points. And that in turn allows me to connect the dots differently. Which is precisely what fascinates me.
  This whole paying attention thing did not make much sense to Trigger for he often wished he were less aware of people, places and things than he was. To him this awareness crap seemed completely overrated. What good was it, for instance, to be aware of one's toothache? Or of one's tinnitus?
  On the other hand Edna's sock awareness also intrigued him. During the next few days he caught himself looking out for wet socks wherever he went. He never saw one. Edna however did. Wet socks? Trigger inquired. Yes, wet socks.
Next Trigger tried harder. But there were no wet socks where he went. But then, one day, he saw one. A wet red sock. On Fulton and 32nd Avenue. He felt excited, took out his camera and started shooting. From all angles. He beamed with pleasure when he told Edna. Being Californian she shared his pleasure and felt happy for him.
  Two days later he detected another one. This time it was a dry black one. On Cabrillo. He could hardly believe his luck. But he was also slightly suspicious for Cabrillo was almost a bit too close to where he and Edna lived on 32nd Avenue. And Fulton of course was also suspiciously close. Could it be that Edna had planted the socks? Possibly, he thought. But come on, he said to himself, now that I've found my calling I'm not willing to give it up for such an unlikely possibility.
  I'm missing two of my socks, Edna said two days later. A red and a black one. You seen them?
   
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  2008 © Hans Durrer / Soundscapes